Is there a way to know if my faith is genuine or if I’m going through the motions? There is a way! This is an important question to ask and an even more important one to answer.
“5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! 6 I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test.”2 Corinthians 13:5-6
Of all the tests you and I face in life, this is the one we want to pass. Paul urges Christians to examine themselves to see if you’re in the faith and not going through the motions of Christianity.
In James 2:14-26, the author gives 4 pointers to assist us in this crucial test. James compares and defines workless faith and faith that works.
#1 Blind to Brotherly Basic Needs.
What if your brother is poorly clothed and lacking daily food, and you wish them well, what good is your faith?
Here James questions the legitimacy of a person who says they are a part of the family of God but ignore the needs of those around them. The term brother or sister indicates someone in the family of God.
Showing compassion is not limited to the church family. Compassion and faith go hand in hand.
“17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:17-18
You have been blessed to bless others, steward it well. Authentic faith sees a need and meets it. Ask God for wisdom on how and when to give, but don’t withhold giving when it’s in your ability to do so.
The second characteristic of a workless faith is #2 Accurate theology.
This sounds like a contradiction, doesn’t it? How does accurate theology fall into the category of workless faith?
“You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe- and shudder.” James 2:20
An accurate theology is essential to a healthy faith, but it’s not enough to save you. Orthodoxy has zero impact on our sinful state if it lacks repentance and obedience.
If what we know about God doesn’t cause us to live with reverence and obedience, then what we believe is not enough. Knowing about God should provoke worship, obedience, and promote transformation. You can know the right thing and still do the wrong thing if you lack obedience.
James moves on to share two characteristics of faith that works. His first example is Abraham, the father of faith.
The phrase, “faith was made completed by his works,” translates literally as “his faith works.” Abraham trusted God and did what God asked him to do.
That is the essence of faith, taking God at his word even when it appears counter-intuitive to your thinking. James wants it known that without action, faith is incomplete.
His second illustration could not be more different. James uses #2 Rahab as an example of faith that works.
- Abraham was famous for being the father of faith for the Jewish people.
- Rahab was famous for being a prostitute.
Rahab was poor, immoral, a gentile and a liar, but she believed in the God of the Israelites and concealed the location of the Jewish spies from her own people. She recognized who the God of Israel was, and her actions demonstrated her faith in Him.
If we profess faith in God, our works are the evidence of our faith in God. You are responsible for the truth you know.
“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” Galatians 6:7
- What we sow in obedience, we will reap a harvest of righteous blessing.
- What we sow in disobedience, we will reap in a harvest of consequence.
Today is the day to “examine yourselves to see if you are in the faith,” or better yet to see if “faith is in you.”